To kick off The 2020 NAMM Show, NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond presented singer-songwriter Jason Mraz with the Music for Life Award, honoring his commitment to music and arts education. Mraz then sat down with Lamond during the show’s opening educational session, “Breakfast of Champions,” to discuss the importance of music and arts education in driving his career, along with his work as a music-education advocate via the Jason Mraz Foundation.
“Probably about a decade or more ago, I learned that a lot of the programs I came up through as a kid were because of donors—generous donors,” Mraz said. “And that really touched me. So I decided, ‘I’m going to be a donor.’ And the more I got donating, the more I would meet board members and parents and students and have these great experiences. So, a couple of years ago, I focused my foundation just on inclusive arts education and the advancement of equality. And more than just giving dollars, we really want to give our time to inspire young people.
“We’re working with a number of different schools and programs, kids of all ages and instrumentation in singing and dancing—all levels of performance—to mainly just give them an opportunity. Finding organizations that were struggling that want to sustain that need an extra teacher, that need extra hours, that need a space, or helping a program create something new, that’s what we’ve been doing. We’re just trying to breathe life into the arts and give opportunities to young people who want to do it.
“We have to give back to that system because those are going to be our future customers, those are going to be our future fans, those are going to be our future collaborators. We could be writing songs with them. And we’re going to be their customer one day. We’re going to be buying their records or seeing their concerts. So we’re all working together.”